Hamilton


Hamilton
   HAMILTON, a parish, burgh, and market-town, in the Middle ward of the county of Lanark, including the village of Fernigair, and containing 10,862 inhabitants, of whom 8876 are in the town, 11 miles (S. E. by E.) from Glasgow, and 38 (W. S. W.) from Edinburgh. This place appears to have been distinguished at a very early period, as a royal residence, under the appellation of Cadzow, of which name, however, the origin and signification are now unknown. In 1153, and also in 1289, the monarchs held their courts here; and it continued to be a royal manor till the battle of Bannockburn, immediately after which it was conferred by Bruce upon Walter Fitzgilbert de Hamilton, ancestor of the present dueal family of that name, in whose possession it has ever since remained. In 1445, James II., by charter dated the 3rd of July, created James, then proprietor of the estate, first Lord Hamilton; and erected the manor of Cadzow into a barony, which took its name from the family of its possessor. In 1474, Lord Hamilton married the Princess Mary, eldest daughter of the king, and widow of the Earl of Arran, by virtue of which alliance his descendants were, after the death of James V., recognised by parliament as heirs of the crown in the event of the death of Mary, Queen of Scots. On their accompanying that princess into France, they were created dukes of Chatelherault, in that kingdom; and they were subsequently made dukes of Hamilton by Charles I., and dukes of Brandon, in England, by Queen Anne. Few events of historical importance have occurred to distinguish the town. Of these the principal are conflicts which took place in 1650, between the army of the Covenanters, consisting of 1500 horse under the command of Colonel Kerr, and the forces of General Lambert sent against them by Cromwell, when, after an obstinate resistance, in which Kerr and 100 of his men were killed, the Covenanters were dispersed. In 1679, the army of the Covenanters, again assembling, to the number of 4000 men, encamped at Bothwell moor, between the river Clyde and the town, from which position they were dislodged by the royal army under the Duke of Monmouth, by whom they were defeated with the loss of 1200 of their number who were taken prisoners. In 1774, an accidental fire broke out in the town, which, raging for several days with unabated violence, reduced a considerable portion of it to ashes.
   The town is situated on a tract of elevated ground, about a mile from the confluence of the Avon with the Clyde, and considerably to the westward of the ancient town, of which the only remains now existing are a small portion of an out-building belonging to the old hall in the pleasure-grounds of Hamilton Palace. It is intersected by the Cadaow burn, over which is a noble bridge of three arches, and by the roads leading to Glasgow and Edinburgh, on the line of the latter of which an elegant bridge of five arches was erected, over the Clyde, by act of parliament, in 1780: across the same river is also Bothwell bridge, a very ancient structure on the road to Glasgow, of which the date is unknown, and which was recently widened and repaired. A handsome bridge has lately been built over the Avon, on the London road; and across the same river is an ancient bridge of three arches, built by the monks of Lesmahago. The houses are in general well built, and some additional houses have been very recently erected. The streets are lighted with gas by a company of proprietary shareholders, who have erected works for the purpose upon a very elegant plan; and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water conveyed in pipes, from a distance of three miles, by a company whose formation was but recently completed. The public library, supported by subscription, was first opened in 1808, chiefly under the auspices of Dr. John Hume, and at present contains more than 3000 volumes; and a mechanics' institution has been established within the last few years, which is maintained with success. The cavalry barracks occupy a large area surrounded with a wall, and comprise a ridingroom, and an hospital, with stabling and the other usual accommodations. There are three masonic lodges, two gardeners' societies, and a friendly society. Considerable improvements have taken place in the town by the formation of new streets. The post is frequent; and great facility of intercourse is maintained with Glasgow and the adjacent towns by numerous coaches and other modes of conveyance. The market is on Friday; and several fairs are held in the year, which were formerly great marts for lint and wool, but at present are little more than large markets. The market for butchers' meat and the shambles are situated nearly in the middle of the town, on the bank of the Cadzow burn; and the buildings are neat, and well adapted to the purpose. A very considerable TRADE was formerly carried on here in malt, under the direction of the Society of Maltsters, which society is still kept up, though the trade has altogether declined: the linen trade, also, which formed at one time almost the staple business of the place, has been wholly discontinued. The cotton trade, on its first introduction, flourished here for some years, and the town became the principal seat of the district for the weaving of imitation or Scotch cambries; it has been on the decline since 1792, but is still considerable, and affords employment to many of the inhabitants. There are at present about 1300 looms in the town, and fifty in the rural districts of the parish; and many females are engaged in winding and in tambouring. The old lace manufacture, introduced by one of the duchesses of Hamilton, has for many years been decaying, and is now almost extinct; but a new manufacture of lace, introduced some years since by a firm from Nottingham, is at present the most flourishing trade of Hamilton, and gives occupation to nearly 3000 women in the town and neighbourhood. The principal productions are, tamboured bobbinets, and black silk veils of various patterns, with other articles, for which there is a very large and increasing demand, for the markets of England, America, and the British colonies. Many very respectable houses are engaged in this trade, which has, since its introduction by Mr. Galloch, been very much improved by others. Great quantities of check shirts are also made in the town, and exported to Australia; the weaving of stockings is carried on to a limited extent; and the tanning of leather is conducted, though on a very small scale.
   The present town, though the greater part of it is comparatively modern, is of considerable antiquity, and, in the reign of James II., was erected into a burgh by charter of that monarch, granted in 1456. In 1548, it was created a royal burgh by Queen Mary; and it continued to enjoy its privileges as such till 1670, when the inhabitants forfeited their rights by disused, and accepted a new charter from Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, by which it became merely the chief burgh of the duchy of Hamilton. At the present time, the government is vested in a provost, three bailies, a treasurer, and a council of seven, assisted by a town-clerk and other officers. The provost and bailies are elected annually from the council, four of whom go out of office by rotation, every year, when four new ones are chosen by the inhabitants; the treasurer and the town-clerk are appointed by the corporation. The provost and bailies are justices of the peace, by virtue of their office, and are empowered by the charter to hold courts for the determination of all claims in actions of debt, and for the trial of all criminal cases not extending to life or limb, within the burgh. The magistrates used formerly to hold occasionally a court for the recovery of debts under forty shillings, which court, however, has, on account of a doubt entertained of its legality, fallen into disuse: they still hold weekly courts for the recovery of debts and for civil actions to an unlimited amount, in which the townclerk acts as assessor; and also courts of police for the trial of misdemeanours and other offences not capital. The elective franchise was granted by act of the 2nd and 3rd of William IV.; and the burgh has, from that time, in conjunction with Lanark, Falkirk, Linlithgow, and Airdrie, returned one member to the imperial parliament. The right of election is vested in the householders occupying tenements of the yearly value of £10 and upwards, of whom there are nearly 300. The former court-house and prison, erected at the cross in the reign of Charles I., were lately taken down; and the old town-hall is now disused. A new town-hall with public offices and a prison, of which the first stone was laid in 1834, has been built in lieu, and consists of a distinct range of building, two stories high, comprising, on the ground-floor, three apartments for the sheriff's clerk, with a record-room, and offices for the townclerk, &c., as well as a court-room thirty-seven feet long, and thirty-two feet broad: in the upper story is a large hall for county meetings, with other apartments. Behind is the prison, three stories high, containing fortyfive cells, with a spacious day-room for debtors, and day-rooms for criminals; the lower part is appropriated as a bridewell, and the upper part to debtors. Between the public offices and the prison is the house of the governor, with requisite apartments, and a bath for the use of the prison; the whole surrounded with a high wall, inclosing an area of about two roods. The trades' hall, in Church-street, erected in 1816, is a neat and appropriate building, comprising, in the upper part, a hall for the meetings of the trades, and, in the lower, a well-arranged tavern. There are also a tax, excise, and stamp office. The rateable annual value of the parish is £38,181.
   The parish extends for nearly six miles in length, and is almost of the same breadth; it is bounded on the north and north-east by the river Clyde, on the south and south-west by the parish of Glassford, on the east by the parishes of Dalziel, Cambusnethan, Dalserf, and Stonehouse, and on the west by Blantyre. It comprises 14,240 acres of land, of which about 8000 are arable and of good quality, 2000 woodland, and 2040 unprofitable or waste. The surface is generally level, occasionally varied with sloping ridges, but not rising into hills of any considerable elevation. The most fertile lands are the extensive vales on the south-western bank of the Clyde, where the soil is a deep rich loam; and on the north-eastern side of that river are some hundreds of acres which, though belonging to this parish, seem to be more properly within that of Dalziel, which nearly surrounds them. The soil in the middle of the parish rests upon a yellow clay, and is less fertile than that of the valleys near the Clyde; the higher parts consist chiefly of gravel and sand, and are comparatively unproductive. The substrata are principally sandstone rock, appearing in great masses that are from under fifty to more than 300 feet in thickness; whinstone also prevails in some parts, and coal, lime, and ironstone are found. The several strata of coal vary from twenty to twenty-four feet in average thickness. The limestone is of various quality; that obtained in the south-west is excellent, and much used for building and also for manure. The ironstone is found in seams about eighteen inches thick, and also in masses varying from very minute balls to others of several inches in diameter, chiefly in the clay near the strata of coal. Among the crops are, wheat, which is grown on all the lands near the Clyde, and also on some few of the higher lands; and oats of various descriptions, of which the Polish, Essex, and Friesland are predominant. Peas and beans are chiefly raised on the lower grounds. Barley, formerly more largely cultivated, is now seldom sown, except for preparing lands for artificial grasses; but potatoes are produced in great quantities, and of good quality, and a little flax for domestic use. The system of agriculture, though varying greatly in different parts, is generally advanced; there are some considerable dairy-farms, and much attention is paid to the breeding of cattle, in which many improvements have taken place within the last few years. Great improvement has also been made in draining and inclosing the lands; the fences are chiefly hedges, and are mostly well kept up. The pastures, especially in the low lands bordering on the Clyde, are fertile; and attached to a few of the farms, and even to some of the houses in the town, are orchards which are cultivated with assiduous care, and abound with fruit of excellent quality. There are considerable tracts of woodland in the parish, of which the principal are, Bar-Michael wood near Bothwell bridge, Ross wood on the river Clyde, and Hamilton wood on the Avon and Barncluith burn. Forest trees of every kind thrive well, particularly on the lower lands. Oak is very prevalent, and many of the older trees have attained considerable size, several of them measuring thirty-six feet in girth; larch and Scotch fir also thrive; and the banks of the rivers, where they have any elevation, are crowned with luxuriant foliage. Silver and spruce fir are grown with success; and the cedar of Lebanon has attained a tolerable size where it has been planted. Freestone is found in several parts, of a good quality for building; and at present about fifty men are constantly employed in the various quarries.
   The principal river is the Clyde, which rises in the heights of Crawford, and enters the parish below the falls at Lanark; it expands abruptly in its course, which is very rapid, into a breadth varying from eighty to 100 feet, and is subject after rains to frequent inundations, by which the lands have at different times been much injured. The Avon also intersects the parish, receiving in its course six tributary streams; and there are three other streamlets or burns, which fall into the Clyde. The Avon rises on the west, near the borders of the county of Ayr, and, after a picturesque course of several miles through the vale to which it gives name, enters the parish at Millheugh bridge, a little below which it flows through a defile bounded on each side by majestic rocks of romantic aspect, rising to the height of 200 or 300 feet, and richly clothed, in some parts almost to their summits, with stately and venerable oaks. Nearly in the centre of this defile are the remains of Cadzow Castle, seated on a rock ascending perpendicularly to the height of 200 feet above the level of the river; and on the opposite bank is the banquet-house of the Duke of Hamilton, built after the model of Chatelherault, from which it takes its name. Not far from the extremity of the chasm, and about three miles from the entrance, are the gardens of Barncluith, the property of Lord Ruthven, rising in terraces from the western bank of the river, which, after forcing its way through this rocky channel, flows along the fertile valleys of the parish, and falls into the Clyde near Hamilton bridge. Of the several tributary streams that intersect the parish the principal are, Cadzow burn, which rises in Glassford, and, after running through the town, falls into the Clyde at a short distance below Hamilton bridge; and Barncluith burn, which joins the Avon about half a mile from the town. The latter burn flows through Hamilton wood, forming in its way five or six falls, varying from five to six feet in height, and adding greatly to the beauty of the scenery. The Clyde and the Avon abound with fish, of which salmon, trout, pike, perch, lampreys, and silver-eels are the most common; and roach are occasionally found. Fish are found also in the streams tributary to those rivers.
   Hamilton Palace, the seat of his grace the Duke of Hamilton, situated on the borders of the town, about half a mile to the west of the confluence of the Avon and Clyde, was originally a square tower of very small dimensions. The more ancient part of the present mansion was built in 1590, and nearly rebuilt about the year 1720; considerable additions have been made to the building since 1822, and at present it is one of the most splendid structures in the kingdom. The north front is 264 feet in length, and three stories in height, with a stately portico of duplicated Corinthian columns, each thirty feet high, and three feet in diameter, formed of one single block, and supporting a triangular pediment. To the west is a wing 100 feet in length, appropriated for offices and servants' apartments; and in the rear of the building is a corridor of recent addition, in which are baths and various appendages for the use of the family. The entrance hall is lofty and richly embellished; and all the state apartments, which are extremely spacious, are magnificently decorated, and richly ornamented with sculpture. The dining-room is seventy feet in length and thirty feet wide, and has numerous embellishments, among which is a tripod of exquisite beauty standing on a pedestal of African marble: the other apartments, also, abound with costly vases, cabinets, specimens, of mosaic, gems, and other rare and interesting curiosities. The gallery, which is 120 feet long, twenty feet wide, and twenty feet high, contains an extensive and very valuable collection of paintings by the most eminent masters of the Italian and Flemish schools, and many family portraits. At the upper end is the throne used by his grace when ambassador at the court of Petersburgh, and on one side of it is a bust of Augustus, and on the other one of Tiberius, both of oriental porphyry: at the opposite end of the gallery is a beautiful door of black marble, surmounted by a pediment supported on two pillars of green porphyry. The library contains a large collection of well-assorted volumes, and of prints, the latter alone being valued at £10,000. The stables, built between the palace and the town, are on a scale adapted to the style of the palace; and the grounds abound with stately timber, and with every variety and beauty of scenery. The banquetinghouse of Chatelherault was erected in 1732, by the then duke, after a model of the citadel of that name in France; it is built of red freestone, and decorated with four square towers, and, with its numerous pinnacles and other ornaments, forms a conspicuous object on the eastern side of the river Avon. It contains, among various interesting works of taste, a small but choice collection of paintings; and the grounds, in which is an extensive flower-garden, are tastefully embellished. Earnock House, a seat in the parish, is beautifully situated in its western part, on an elevated site surrounded with flourishing plantations; the house is of modern erection, well adapted for its purpose, and the gardens and pleasure-grounds are agreeably laid out. Ross is a spacious mansion, pleasantly situated in grounds comprehending much pleasing scenery: Nielsland is also a handsome residence, with an extensive demesne; and there are some good houses at Fair Hill, Grovemount, Edlewood, and Fairholme. Of Barncluith the principal feature is the gardens previously noticed; and many of the ancient seats of different branches of the Hamilton family have become farm-houses. The chief landed proprietor is the Duke of Hamilton, who owns more than one-half of the parish.
   The parish formerly comprished the chapelry of Machan, now the parish of Dalserf; and the church was granted by David I., together with the lands belonging to it, to the abbey of Glasgow, and was afterwards appropriated to the deanery of that see. The Ecclesiastical affairs are now under the superintendence of the presbytery of Hamilton and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. There are two ministers, of whom the first has a stipend of £313. 13., whereof £2. 15. arise from a bequest for communion elements; and £107. 10. are allowed by the Duke of Hamilton in lieu of manse and glebe: the second minister has a stipend of less amount, with a manse, but no glebe. The old church, which was made collegiate under the influence of the first Lord Hamilton, in 1451, stood in the higher part of the parish, and was endowed for a provost and eight prebendaries, and contained a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, for which a chaplain was appointed. The building, which was of hewn stone, consisted of a nave, choir, and transepts, of elegant design, and continued till 1732, when it fell into decay, since which time it has been greatly dilapidated, nothing of it now remaining but one of the transepts, still used as a burying-place for the Hamilton family. The present parish church, situated nearly in the centre of the town, is a handsome structure of circular form, erected after a design by the elder Adam, architect; and is adapted to a congregation of 800. A second church in connexion with the Establishment, and capable of containing 1021 persons, has been lately erected; but this building is now in the hands of members of the Free Church, who appoint the minister. The Episcopalians in the neighbourhood have just formed themselves into a congregation. The Roman Catholics have purchased ground for the erection of a chapel; and there are two congregations of the Relief, one in Muir-street, and the other in Brandon-street; also places of worship for Antiburghers, New Light Burghers, Old Independents, and a tabernacle in connexion with the Congregational Union. The grammar school is of ancient origin, and in 1588 was endowed by Lord John Hamilton with £20 Scotch per annum; it affords a liberal education to about forty children, and is under the patronage of the corporation. The master's salary is £34, and the fees on the average amount to £60: the school-house is a venerable building, nearly in the centre of the town. The hospital founded and supported by the Duke of Hamilton, for twelve aged men, was originally built in the old town, but was removed to the present after the erection of the collegiate church; it is an ancient building with a campanile turret, situated near the cross, and was formerly inhabited by the pensioners, but has for some years been let out, and the receipts applied to their use. An hospital was built and endowed in 1775, by William Aikman, Esq., for four aged men, who have each a residence in the building, which is in Muir-street, with a suit of clothes every second year, and £4 per annum. Mr. John Rae bequeathed to the town council a sum of money which, together with some bequests of other benefactors, produces an annual interest of £9.2.4., which, according to the will of the testators, is distributed among poor housekeepers. Mr. Robertson, of this town, and sheriff-clerk of Lanark, in conjunction with Mr. Lyon, left £4 per annum for nine aged men; and Miss Christian Allan, in 1785, left to the Kirk Session £50, in trust for the benefit of the poor. Mr. William Torbet bequeathed to the same trustees an orchard that lets at £10 per annum; and they have also a legacy of £50, the interest of which is divided among five female housekeepers named by them; another legacy of £50, of which only £30 were paid, for clothing the indigent poor; and a donation of £100, of which the interest is applied to the instruction of twelve children.
   Among the Antiquities in the parish, the most conspicuous are the remains of Cadzow Castle, previously noticed as crowning the summit of a precipitous rock rising from the river Avon, in Hamilton woods; it has been repaired at various times. The keep, surrounded by a fosse, over which is a narrow bridge leading to the entrance gateway, and a well within the walls, are still in good preservation; and several vaults, with part of the walls of the chapel, may yet be distinctly traced. Darngaber Castle, in the south-east of the parish, supposed to have been founded by Thomas, son of Sir John de Hamilton, lord of Cadzow, occupied an elevated site at the extremity of a point of land near the confluence of two rivulets: the only remains are, portions of the foundations, which appear to have consisted of flat unhewn and uncemented stones; and some vaults, that seem to have been constructed at a much earlier period. At Meikle Earnoch, two miles south of the town, is a tumulus about twelve feet in diameter, and eight feet high, which appears to have been originally of larger dimensions. On opening it several urns were found, containing human bones nearly reduced to ashes; they were all of baked earth, without inscription, but some of them were decorated with mouldings. To the north of Hamilton Palace is a mount supposed to have been in remoter ages a seat for the administration of justice; it is about thirty feet in diameter at the base, and fifteen feet high, and near it is a stone cross four feet high, without inscription. This is thought to have been the market cross of the old town, called Netherton, which, previously to the erection of the present town of Hamilton, occupied this part. In the south of the parish is a portion of a cromlech, consisting of one stone of about six feet, which, having declined greatly from its erect position, was recently replaced by the tenant of a neighbouring farm.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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